7 March 2018

Liberia: LRA Wants Lawmakers Declare Assets

As part of the fight to wipe out corruption and to expose those who get rich from official misconducts, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has called on members of the House of Representatives to declare their assets.

The LRA has also reminded Lawmakers to begin paying their Real Properties Tax (RPT).

Real Property Tax is the tax on real property imposed by the government, and the RPT for any year shall accrue on the first day of January and from that date it shall constitute a lien on the property which shall be superior to any other lien, mortgage, or encumbrance of any kind whatever, and shall be extinguished only upon payment of the delinquent tax.

In a communication to Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon, which was read on Tuesday, March 6, during the 15th day Sitting, Domestic Tax Commissioner Darlingston Y. Talery of the LRA, said the declaration of asses and payment of the RPT is in pursuant to the statutory mandate of the LRA which is to assess, collect and audit all legitimate revenue due the government and people.

"The Domestic Tax Department, through its Real Estate Division, wishes to resume its awareness campaign to notify all members of the House of Representatives and staff/employment declare and pay taxes on their Real Properties," Mr. Talery wrote.

"In order to achieve this objective, the Department, through the Real Estate Tax Division has appointed Isaac Stevens, Assistant Commissioner, Real Estate Tax Division and Mrs. Scholastic Nimely, manager, Real Estate Partnership Project as focal persons to facilitate the process leading from registration to determination of bills and subsequently, salary deduction payments by individual members of the House of Representatives and their staff/employees if applicable."

Meanwhile, a staff at the LRA who requested anonymity said: "The declaration of assets is an indicator of transparency and accountability, and if you do things legitimately, then what do you have to hide? Accountability and transparency help to develop trust."

"Transparency should be the guiding light because governance is a partnership of equals which works only in transparency and accountability," our source elaborated.

"We will see to it that the declaration of assets is done, and it is not just a matter of filing it but we will interrogate the process and inquire how they got it [assets] as well as help where we can," he added.

The source further said the declaration of assets of the lawmakers is intended to dispel views from some quarters that to tackle beliefs by many Liberians that many a time lawmakers have been wrongly accused of acquiring their assets in a corrupt, underhanded manner.

It has been gathered that the Senate has also been written to register and declare their assets.

It has not been confirmed whether the Chief Justice, Associate Justices and the Judges have also been told to declare their assets.

However, President George M. Weah and members of the Cabinet have been judiciously reminded to declare their respective assets in the government's continue fight to curb corruptions.

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